“Form’s a funny word in T20,” Beth Mooney had told Women’s CricZone in a chat before the T20 World Cup began. Four games into the tournament, she has two successive half centuries – an unbeaten one against Bangladesh and a 60 against New Zealand on Monday (March 2).
Her half century followed by three wickets each from Georgia Wareham and Megan Schutt helped Australia brush aside New Zealand by four runs on Monday (March 2) at the Junction Oval in Melbourne and waltz into the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.
Put in to bat, Australia lost Alyssa Healy (nine) early in the piece. It was Mooney who was regularly finding the fence in the company of skipper Meg Lanning. It seemed as if the duo would any semblance of advantage that New Zealand would have got with an early wicket.
But Lanning soon fell. She hit a couple of fours off Anna Peterson’s first two balls before top-edging a sweep to short fine leg for 21. Ashleigh Gardner then joined the proceedings and played second fiddle to Mooney. Because Australia’s innings was pretty much about the southpaw.
She ran well between the wickets, managed to find the gaps regularly and kept the scoreboard moving. She soon completed her eight fifty in T20Is, getting there in 40 balls – not the quickest, effective nonetheless. But then Gardner fell. The up-and-down wicket showed its face, as a Peterson didn’t climb as expected and clean Gardner up, who had charged down the track. That was curtains to the 52-run partnership between the dup for the third wicket.
With a little less than three overs left, Mooney perished, failing to clear long-on, where Suzie Bates took a brilliantly-judged catch – terrific under the circumstances. But a couple of cameos towards the end – Ellyse Perry’s 21 and Rachael Haynes’ unbeaten eight-ball 19 saw Australia post five for 155.
The Kiwi batters at the start looked tentative in response. Were the nerves getting to them? Pressure of the do-or-die game perhaps? For a change, Rachel Priest seemed to hit the ball off the middle of the bat. She hit three fours during her 17-run stint, which ended because of her indecisiveness against Jess Jonassen.
Bates’ sorry run in the competition continued after she was trapped in front for 14. New Zealand’s hopes rested on Sophie Devine’s shoulders. She did belt a couple of fours and a six. But she paid the price for stepping out against Wareham’s leg-spin. She was stumped for 31 and so was Maddy Green, who did the same when she was on 28.
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) March 2, 2020
It was an uphill task since then and regular fall of wickets meant that the door was closed on New Zealand. Katey Martin struck a few lusty blows at the end but she was battling against the tide. While Wareham’s three wickets were her best in a T20 World Cup game, Megan Schutt also picked up three wickets for 28 runs – getting rid of Amelia Kerr (two), Hayley Jensen (zero) and Anna Peterson (nine).
But Australia suffered an injury scare in the 11th over of the chase, when Ellyse Perry walked out clutching her right hamstring after a diving attempt to run Devine out.
“You gotta live with the days it doesn’t come off and celebrate the days when it does,” Mooney had said then. It was surely a time to celebrate for Mooney and Australia, for they had made it to the last four for the seventh successive T20 World Cup.
Brief Scores: Australia 155/5 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 60, Ellyse Perry 21, Meg Lanning 21; Anna Peterson 2/31) beat New Zealand 151/7 in 20 overs (Katey Martin 37*, Sophie Devine 31, Maddy Green 28; Georgia Wareham 3/17, Megan Schutt 3/28) by four runs. PoTM: Georgia Wareham.